UPDATED: Iran: Obama’s turn now

Yes, what is happening in Tehran is not about the U.S. president. And yes, if he jams his nose too far into Iran’s business he risks weakening the popular uprising by sapping its legitimacy. But George Packer points out the limits of “realism,” and the danger that it can turn into culpable legitimization of a regime whose legitimacy is dying. Money quote:

“With riot police and armed militiamen beating and, in a few reported cases, killing unarmed demonstrators in the streets of Iran’s cities, for the Obama Administration to continue parsing equivocal phrases serves no purpose other than to make it look feckless. Part of realism is showing that you have a clear grasp of reality—that you know the difference between decency and barbarism when both are on display for the whole world to see…

“…The tens of millions of Iranians who voted for change and are the long-term future of that country will always remember what America said and did when they put their lives on the line for their values.”

UPDATE: Obama speaks on events in Iran: